In our paintings, we aim to provoke an awareness of the mysteries of the unconscious, that rich collective well of primal symbols and experiences we all share. The paintings become the threshold between the imagination and reality, the dream and consciousness, the individual and the collective.
Our work is collaboration. The real value of this collaboration comes in the more conceptual states of the artistic process; inspiration, criticism, and refinement of ideas. Inspiration comes from dreams and conversations, distilled by a combination of free associative and conscious thought into a coherent, symbolic whole.
It is art as dialogue rather than monologue, a fabric of conversation, in which we invite the viewer to participate.
Jim Lemyre is a native South Jersey artist, born and raised in Mount Holly. Jim and his wife, Lynn, are collaborative artists. They both have been making art since they were children. They met at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ where they were both studying art. Their collaboration started almost immediately by just talking about ideas with each other. These conversations became essential ingredients of each other’s work. As their relationship developed, they became so close that they felt comfortable working on each other’s painting as they progressed. The birth of their daughter Julia was the catalyst they needed to make their art more than just a part of their lives, but their whole life and how they make their living. “There is nothing like the miracle of birth, a new baby, to confront you with the mystery and beauty of creation. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with responsibility we were filled with creative energy”, says Lynn Lemyre.
The surrealist movement and the work of the psychologist Carl Jung are major influences on their painting. Surrealism taps into what Jung called the “collective unconscious”. Suspending the reality of our conscious, rational minds allows us to see the poetry in objects and hints at the mysterious connection we all have with each other. There are symbols that resonate across time and cultures. It is through metaphor that we get a glimpse of the universal and find our connection to other human beings, the world, and the eternal.
As American author Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss and doors will open”. That has definitely been the case with them. Jim and Lynn moved back to Mount Holly to raise their daughter. Every place an artist lives has an impact on their work. They have always sought out places with history and so have lived in some very inspiring locations; a 1920’s apartment building in the middle of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, a tiny cottage by a creek, and now a 100 year old Victorian house in Historic Mount Holly, NJ. Places with history attract them because they give them a sense of connection with those who have come before and those who will come after. In addition, Mount Holly was home, close to all their extended family. Its tree-lined streets, walkable downtown and sense of community attracted them to put down roots there. They were lucky enough to move in at the beginning of Mount Holly’s renaissance and became very involved in the community driven Main Street Program whose goal was to revitalize the downtown, preserving the historic architecture and making it the center of community life again. This tied right into their desire to be part of a vibrant community. They have both taken turns being the Chairperson of the Main Street Design Committee, which focuses on the visual elements of the downtown. Lynn also spent two years as the Main Street Program’s director. Through the Main Street Program, Jim and Lynn became involved in bringing art into the downtown. It started with a simple program called “Windows for Art” that put artist’s work in empty storefront windows. This progressed to spearheading, in partnership with the Mount Holly Town Council and Main Street Mount Holly, a Public Art Ordinance for Mount Holly and obtaining a NJ State Council on the Arts Grant to paint two murals downtown. The murals themselves were a collaboration, painted with the help of artists and residents of Mount Holly.
In 2003 Jim and Lynn opened an art gallery in downtown Mount Holly, called Home Fine Art at 2 Church Street in the Mill Race Village. Part of a historic /restoration neighborhood preservation project, the gallery is housed in what was once a small family owned dairy and residence built in 1825.
In 2004 it became a cooperative art gallery with 10 member artists. With five spacious display areas and exhibits changing monthly every visit presents visitors with new choices to add to their collections. Each month a reception to open the current exhibit provides a time to meet the artists and enjoy refreshments. The combined efforts of these talented artists have created an exhibit space that both nurtures their growth as artists and challenges them to be at their most creative. The Artists Cooperative is unique in that it allows juried artists the opportunity to sell their work as well as taking a part of the operations and decision making processes of the gallery.
Gallery business operations are handled by its members via Committees. Hours of operation are covered by members, typically 2-3 shifts per month, an excellent opportunity for public to meet the artists. Members meet once a month and committees meet according to their needs. Dues are based upon fixed expenses. Each month there is a jurying process seeking new members, featured artists are displayed in the main gallery and the display committee rotates and displays the artwork of all the members throughout the rest of the space.
At “Home” a collector can find work in a variety of media, with a wide range of styles. Encompassing pieces from traditional to innovative, Home Fine Art is one of the premier gallery spaces in Burlington County.
It is also a working studio where member artists can work and teach classes. “We named it “Home”, because, for us, home has always been where the art and the heart is, no matter where we have lived.
On October 22, 2005, Home Fine Art Gallery officially christened its new music venue, Home Stage. Doubling as our Main Gallery, Home Stage provides seating for up to 35 people, creating an intimate, informal setting to experience live performances up close.
Unlike large venues, Home Stage allows participants to fully interact with the artists and their performances. The ability to meet a favorite artist and ask questions is inspiring to both the artist and fan.
It is our hope to bring established and new artist together with long-time and new fan to promote a unique interest, excitement, and support of the arts as a whole, and to offer free concerts to those who might otherwise not be able to experience live music.
Jim and Lynn also work with the Mount Holly Rotary Club on the annual First Night Burlington County, an alcohol free, family friendly, arts celebration each New Year’s Eve, coordinating the creation and installation of the annual sculpture exhibit that celebrates the lunar New Year. In 2004 it was the year of the monkey, 2005 was the year of the rooster and 2006 was the Year of the Dog. 2007 is the Year of the Pig and the Sculpture Committee anticipates getting more entries than ever before. The idea of getting local artists to decorate fiberglass animals and display them around town began with a “Cows on Parade” exhibit in Zurich during the summer of 1998, moved to Chicago in 1999, and came to New York in the summer of 2000. Since then, dozens of towns have done it: pink flamingos in Miami Beach, mustangs in Sante Fe, bears in Berlin, donkeys and elephants in DC. Mount Holly was the first town in South Jersey to host such an exhibit. The proceeds from the auction of the sculptures benefit the non-profit Main Street Program.
Lynn has recently accepted a position in the Burlington County Office of Cultural Affairs & Tourism as the County Curator of Art. She welcomes this new direction in her life as as yet another opportunity to collaborate with even more artists in bringing fine art to the public. Art is important. It is not just decoration or “luxury”, but rather a vital ingredient in our lives. Art speaks to the soul and this gives us the opportunity to connect with each other and the world around us.
Collaboration is an integral part of their lives, working with each other, their community and fellow artists.
Images copyright © Jim & Lynn Lemyre
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